Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Board approves district budget

August 24, 2006

De Soto school board members agreed to a budget of $63.4 million, which will lower its mill levy by .34 of a mill.

Out of this year's general fund, 85 percent will go directly to staff salaries, district communications director Alvie Cater said. Out of the remaining 15 percent, 67 percent goes directly to the classroom.

The board members officially agreed to enter a new contract with the De Soto Teacher's Association on Monday, giving teachers a 4.2 percent rise to the salary schedule. The salary schedule is based on education and years of experience, so more experienced teachers are already getting a raise in addition to the 4.2 percent.

The base or starting salary for district teachers is now $34,350.

This year's budget shows the effect of enrollment growth. Budget planners are predicting 5,377 full-time counted students. The state now gives the district $4,316 base state aid per pupil, but the district also gets extra money for high enrollment, students not proficient in English and students from low-income families. The district budget is $30 million for the base-state-aid per pupil or its general fund.

Administrators plan for the 2006-2007 budget to levy $25.5 million in local taxes this year. The mill levy will drop from 69.115 to 69.081, although residents may see a rise in taxes with a rise in assessed valuation of property. The general fund assessed valuation for the district went from $313.6 million to $353.8 million.

Cater said the district is raising its local option budget to 30 percent of the general fund, the allowed maximum for Kansas school districts. This year, that's about 18.32 mills, or $9 million.

"This shows the situation the state of Kansas is in," Cater said. "The local option budget was created to do extra things for students, but the state funding didn't keep pace. It's not an option anymore. It's a necessity. We can't function without it."

With the Kansas Legislature's 2006 school finance plan, the district would stand to lose about $200,000 because of a loss of new facility funds. However with the growth of students, the district is getting more funds to help pay for the new teachers required by student growth.

Cater said although the district can pay for the additional salaries, the district is running out of space for students throughout its facilities, which is the reason the school board crafted a bond issue to expand some of the schools. However, that bond issue won't pay for new teacher salaries.

"We're mostly paying for salaries and benefits," Cater said. "That's the majority of the costs you'll see. It's like that in any district."

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